A Marriage Changed by Choosing
By Dr. Gary Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
Laura was fed up with her husband and with all the upheaval
in their lives. He often traveled out of town, and when he was
home, he drank and made life miserable for her.
In her frustration, Laura came within an eyelash of throwing
in the towel and filing for divorce, but her good friend Gayle
talked her into going to see her pastor who she felt might be
able to help. Even though Laura was reluctant at first, she was
at the end of her rope. Against her better judgment, she made
an appointment and went to see him.
For nearly forty minutes this wise pastor simply listened to
her story. After Laura had shared her nonstop description of every
one of her husband's faults, she finally sat back with a loud
"Humph." Smugly she waited to hear an "Amen"
from the pastor or at least a hearty confirmation that hers was
the worst husband he had ever heard about.
At first the pastor didn't say a word. Deeply engrossed in thought,
he literally waited several minutes before he spoke. Finally he
sat up, looked her in the eye, and said gently, "Laura, have
you ever forgiven your husband for all his many faults?"
You could have heard a pin drop. Laura had not expected to receive
this kind of advice. ("No wonder his counseling is free,"
she thought.) Of course she had not forgiven her husband! He had
never asked her to, and she wasn't about to bring it up. He had
caused her to suffer, and she wasn't going to let him off the
hook that easily.
"Laura, would you think about what I've said today, and
would you promise to come back and see me next week?" As
she grabbed her purse and headed for the door, she heard herself
mutter something like "That would be fine, Pastor";
but she never thought she would be seeing him again. Yet something
happened that week that began to change Laura's perspective on
her marriage. Something drew her back to this man's office the
In spite of telling herself repeatedly that she should forget
what he said, Laura did a great deal of thinking during the week.
While it didn't all make sense, it began to dawn on her that it
wasn't her husband who was on the hook—she was! He didn't
lose any sleep about his behavior; she was the one getting ulcers.
Laura was still confused and had a great many questions for the
pastor the next time they met. However, God had already begun
to do some miraculous things in Laura's life. That afternoon,
in the quietness of the pastor's study, she surrendered her life
to Christ. She also decided to give up her need for revenge, to
forgive her husband for all he had done, and to learn to love
Laura's husband was a truck driver, and almost a week went by
before he returned home. When he came into the house, he could
have sworn he was at the wrong address. He couldn't believe how
peaceful things were. Just a week ago everything he did made his
wife mad; now she was going out of her way to do things for him.
When this rowdy truck driver found out Laura's change of heart
had something to do with religion, he tossed her behavior aside
as though it were another diet his wife had discovered. While
it made things a lot nicer in the short run, soon her willpower
would fade and they would be back to each other's throats.
After five months, Laura's husband made an appointment to see
the same pastor she had seen. "You've got to tell me about
what happened to Laura," the truck driver said. "She's
changed so much. It's made me realize what a rotten husband I've
been these past years. Pastor, I have a drinking problem, and
I need help with it."
What made all the difference for this couple was that Laura,
in spite of the fact that her husband didn't "deserve"
it, decided to keep her battery charged with the never-depleted
source of God's love and to take personal responsibility for her
thoughts, feelings, and actions, and chose to forgive
her husband. For years she had made just the opposite decision.
She had devalued him and cursed him to his face. She hated his
occupation that took him out of town and filled his clothes with
the smell of diesel fuel.
When Laura's life was changed by God's love, she was able, out
of the overflow of his life, to attach high value to her husband
and love him. Instead of riding him about getting another job,
she found ways to build him up and encourage him. When once she
had gone days without speaking to him when she was angry, now
she told him her feelings, but without anger and hate. As a result,
her husband became so convicted about his behavior at home that
he also made an appointment to see the pastor!
© Copyright 2005 Smalley
Relationship Center. Used by permission.
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